How to start designing a Game?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by cFx, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. cFx

    cFx New Member

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    Hey,

    first of all I want to say that this forum has an awesome design, I just feel home right now^^

    So, I´ve decided to go the GameDev road a couple months ago, after I realized how great and fun coding is. Just hadn`t no idea in which field I want to program =/ After getting inspired by the new AR/VR-Technology (especially HoloLens) ... I´m now pretty sure I want to dive into virtual alternative realities, so I decided to learn how to create games to get a basic understanding of how to create worlds. So my first step was to learn C++ and now I´d say I have a very basic understanding of OOP and C++ in combination with SFML and want to focus on 2D Dev for the next couple of months/years.

    So I created Sprite-Animations and TileMapLoader( with Tiled) and now I´m diving into physics with Box2D ... to get my first GameEngine "done". My main problem now ... I just don`t know ... how to start designing my first game. My goal is an envolving project, which starts pretty simple and with the time gets more and more complex. Like a platformer, which gets filled within the time with RPG-Elements ... and @the end a cool scripted BossLevel.

    So I´m kind of missing my first "Game-Vision" to get motivated working on my project.

    So how you begin starting to design a Game for learning purposes? How you get yourself motivated (I´m only getting motivated by the game design itself. If the design is crap and I would just create an game with non-sense placeholders without story or any deeper meaning I´m just unmotivated. I can only motivate myself with a greater goal ... a game vision^^ )? In fact I´m looking for some tips to start my first "real" project ... which should have an end, a little story, real gameplay and be playable. It shouldn`t have much content, just like 5-10min gameplay, something you can show off =) As an individual I´d greatly skip the "Just clone some games"-way ... because I can`t motivate myself into copying things and motivation is the key for the first game ...

    Would appreciate some tips in how to get started with the design =/
     
  2. fireside

    fireside New Member

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    That's pretty much it, at least for me. I start with the mechanics for some type of game. When I get that worked out, I set up a few obstacles and then I start getting ideas on how the game should work. If you are doing 2d and going to do your own art, you should be practicing that along with developing the game. Your game will revolve around the type of art you can do. Things you should have going before even starting is how you are going to change scenes, because even if it's from the menu to the game play, that's still two scenes, most games you will need more. How to do game saves if that's part of your game, etc. You have to have all that worked out because it's harder to add it later. Keep it simple though, when you start. Maybe unlock levels or something. Make sure your idea has rooms for variations, like different places especially, and it's good to add a few things, like skills, as you move farther to keep interest.
    Get ideas from other small indie games around, also, but make changes, don't do a direct copy.
     
    #2 fireside, Feb 25, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
    cFx likes this.
  3. Rekusi

    Indie Author

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    Start simple is the best everyone can tell you. Ive read too many horror stories of people starting big, getting overwhelmed, then quitting.

    It took me a while to come up with a quick and easy first game. It took me a few weeks to finally decide on it after 20 other possible games came to my mind. So I made my first game and 800 downloads later im pretty happy for a non marketed basic game.

    The easiest type of game you can make is something that allows you to stay on the screen. Shooting something, avoiding something, etc. Make it simple, addictive and fun. If an idea for a more difficult game comes to mind...DONT lose it! Save it as a future project, but keep thinking about something else even simpler that you can make.

    Writers can get writer's block, and the same can happen to game designers. It will come to you.
     
    João, DukeofRealms and cFx like this.
  4. cFx

    cFx New Member

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    Thank you for your answers,

    but how are you starting? Diving deep into GameDesign and plan as much as possible (story, art-style, mechanics, genre, etc. ) or "just" code and getting something done and creating the design on the fly?

    I kinda have this idea of a platformer which RPG-Elements to get experiences with creating RPGs. So I would start with an simple platformer with a few enemies, later adding some items to collect, combat-system, experience, skills etc. . But I´m kinda worried, if I´m starting to design it on the fly, that my game get`s just too big ... driven by emotions and spontaneous inspirations... and that I´m getting overwhelmed and quitting (as you said). So I think it`s better to create some set of rules for the first games =P

    But maybe I should just start and stop thinking so much^^
     
  5. kevintrepanier

    Original Member Indie Author

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    Since you don't seem to have much experience with game design, my tip is to clone a game.

    This doesn't prevent you from going the way you want to go though. If you want to go the platformer way, what is the control scheme you would like to have? Here's a few options : Super Mario, Ghoul's N Ghosts, Castlevania, Megaman, Super Meatboy. Try to emulate one or several of those schemes and see how this works out for what you want to do. This is going to be a great coding practice and you can get a feeling of how they each work out in a basic level.

    After such a research, you're going to have much more information to work with to build your own design.
     
    DukeofRealms likes this.
  6. fireside

    fireside New Member

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    Whatever you do, don't start with an rpg. It's way too many game elements to do a good job at anything. Pick out a few skills you can add during game play. Mostly, yeah, just play around and don't think too much. Same with art or anything. If you start with a strong idea, you generally will overshoot your own skills. Play around for a while and then take the things that worked pretty good, and combine them into a game. Play around with small game mechanic ideas no matter how off the wall they seem. Cards, tile puzzles, anything. You might not put them in a final game, but you may put some parts of them, or you will learn something that you use later. You are just establishing a foundation, sort of like a tool set. People think they should design first, but that's actually backwards from probably everything you've done if you think about it.
     
    #6 fireside, Feb 26, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  7. Frozen Cube

    Frozen Cube New Member

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    Something that most people think is necessary when starting out is excessive planning. This is entirely incorrect, as - while some planning is definitely needed in a very simple form - I've heard of people (and have also done it myself) that sit and plan games down to the tiny, nitty-gritty details, but then end up never developing that game since so much time has gone into planning, no tangible progress is made, ending with the loss of interest in that project.

    As several other of the above posts also mentioned, scope is a huge thing when starting out. It is crucial to scope small - and when you think it is small enough, think a little smaller. This is simply because ideas seem way easier in your head/on paper then they actually turn out being in reality.

    Good luck in your endeavours! :)
     
  8. depad

    depad New Member

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    Find a game engine you like (Unity is a good start), learn the programming language that it uses (it's easier than it sounds) and then do practice projects using tutorials if you need to. They also have a very helpful answers section on the Unity page, as well as subreddits on reddit
     
  9. cFx

    cFx New Member

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    Thy for your answers and sorry for the late reply =/

    @FrozenCube I think the thing with the scope is a crucial problem of myself, I`m always trying to start and stay small, but it`s just not happening =P
    About the planning: I think you should plan the general purpose of your game. I´ve tried to just do something and than I came across box2d and I need to rework my whole game for changing pixels to meter (so box2d is working properly).

    @depad I´m currently learning/working with C++ and SFML (a library) and box2d for the physic part. I want to know the basic-stuff before starting with an engine =P

    I´ve just bought a book about game-design to learn the basics in how to design a game and currently learning to create my own little assets, so I can create my first game out of my mind in it`s simpliest form ... running and jumping for the beginning =>
     
  10. 3ph0r

    Moderator

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    It really depends on the size of the game. Since yours is small, just brain storm some notes before programming it, just get down the main features that you need in order for your game to "be a game" and get it working.

    It's best to write down what puzzles you wanted and roughly how they will play and get through the game. It doesn't really need to be thorough but just enough so it's easier to see your plan. It will make it a little easier to program too since you can break everything down into smaller pieces.

    Some people are against planning but tbh if I don't plan then I will never finish anything because I can't focus and the project ends up getting out of hand and you loose sight of what you set out to do in the first place
     
    cFx likes this.

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